Via, Verizon reveal electrified van concept

Telecommunications giant Verizon and vehicle maker Via Motors revealed a new “extended range” electrified hybrid work van designed to not only reduce fuel consumption but provide plug-in electrical power for tools and other uses.

Introduced at the 2012 National Truck Equipment Assn. (NTEA) show in Indianapolis, the collaborative effort incorporates Via’s proprietary extended range electric vehicle or “eREV” technology package with Verizon’s gasoline-powered cargo van.

Not only does Via’s eREV system – which can be used on vans or pickups – offer up to 40 mi. of electric-only range power stored in its lithium ion battery pack, an onboard electric generator or “range extender” powered by the gasoline motor allows for further fuel economy improvements.

That means such vans can go from averaging eight to 12 mpg in typical gasoline-only operation to nearly 100 mpg in combined gasoline/electric mode, said Kraig Higginson, Via’s CEO, during a press conference at the show.

While such “extended range” vehicles are not cheap – Higginson said the Verizon van displayed at NTEA costs $79,000 – the sticker price should decline significantly as order volumes increase. He also pointed out that such electrified work vehicles can improve fleet fuel economy up to 300% and they can potentially be far cheaper to acquire and operate through a monthly lease program tied to fuel cost.

In addition to significant fuel savings, Verizon anticipates utilizing the vehicles’ onboard generator and power export option to power work tools or even provide power to its communications network in an emergency. 

Higginson noted, too, that the company’s plug-in design allows both pickup and van models modified with its technology package to re-charge the lithium-ion battery pack from a typical 110 volt household outlet overnight for as little as $1 a day in some states.

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